Lesson 35 - Monday June 14th

My New Instructor

I did not fly for over three weeks after the sight-seeing trip with Paula and Michael, so I was a little nervous today, for my first lesson with Craig, my new CFI.

Craig seems to be in his 30s, a nice irreverent man, who gets fairly directly to his point.  I arrive at Justice at 1PM, and he takes a look at my log book, just looking at the last few entries to see how far I've got by seeing what I did most recently.  Then we discuss a bit what I've learnt so far, and what I feel are my weak points.  I mention using the rudder, and maintaining airspeed when landing.  Craig says he can fix those, and my airspeed problems are probably due to not trimming well enough on the approach.

We go to get the plane book, and Craig hands me a pair of "Foggles", which is a visor that blocks your view of the outside world while letting you see in instruments.   I look at them with some dubiousness, as I've never used them before.  "What, you've never used them before?" says Craig, "well, here they are".

So, I preflight 8567C, Craig arrives, basically the same procedure as I've always done, just a few minor differences here and there, (like: put the keys on top of the dash rather than on the floor, so you can see them from outside), but I basically do what I've always done and eventually we take off.

It's bit of a cloudy day, but not too bad, some minor turbulence from the heat, but weather not much of a factor today.

.First off, when we get to around 3000 feet, Craig has me put on the foggles,  which proved to be not so much of a problem.  I just really need to keep an eye on all the instruments (Craig had earlier to me about "Scanning" the instruments in a pattern, which I kind of neglected to do). That all went reasonably well, and about five minutes later I took of the foggles, and we were somewhere in the valley.

We then went through slow flight and power off stalls.  The power off stalls seemed a bit different from before, where I'd established a 500fpm descent before doing the stall, but essentially the same thing, as you slow down, and pull the nose up for a full stall.

Then steep turns, which were not much better than I remembered, but on the second one, I got a bit better as Craig showed me how to hold the nose in position.  Still need a bit of practice there.

Then he did an emergency engine off simulation.  I established glide speed, kinda, and then fluffed the looking for a landing spot, as there did not seem to be any good ones.  Craig suggested the freeway median, which looked relatively obstacle free.  He then had to prompt me a bit for the next steps (attempt to restart engine, Mayday call), but I did reasonably well, almost good enough to survive!

Then heading back, Craig tried to catch me by asking which way was back to SMO, but I'd luckily noticed we were over Westlake Village (where I used to live), and were heading South, so I could point off to the 10 o'clock position with some confidence.

Back in along the coast, the marine layer was really rolling in, so we had to dodge a few clouds.    We called in at Malibu instead of the Palisades, and we started the descent a lot earlier, but otherwise the approach was similar.  Visibility was probably under five miles, but it's easy to see where you are round here, as the coastline is very distinct with several large building landmarks.

So we head back, Craig tells me to land just as I normally would and he would discuss it later, so I do a fairly normal right pattern landing, swooping around a bit near the end, and bouncing a bit, but I get us down, and I don't think Craig touched the controls.

After landing Craig tells me that my problem is indeed trim, and I realize that I did not trim at all during the landing.  We then take off again, so he can demo the landing for me.  First off he tells me to fly the downwind leg at 100, rather than 85.  Also we are going to be landing faster.  He does the downwind and tower asks us for a short approach, so he begins the descent, and demonstrates trimming the plane so it's in control all the time.  He brings us round for final, and sets us up, and hands over to me, and I kind of land.

We taxi back, then back in the office we talk a bit more about my landings, and he says I focus too much on aiming for a point, so we are going to ignore that, and just fly the plane down, it's a long runway.  And fly the whole thing a bit faster, and maybe not use the last notch of flaps, as it makes the place difficult to control.

All in all, I'm happy with my new instructor, he seems to have identified some problems already and figured out how to approach them in a new way.  I was a little discombobulated when he told me we've soon be doing cross country and then a cross country solo. I told him I'd not done my solo yet.  Aha, all this time he'd assumed I'd soloed.  So, we are going to do pattern work.  Presumably he'll try to iron out my kinks and I'll solo in a lesson or two.

Next lesson tomorrow at 1.


(c) 2004 Mick West